With his guitar placed near his coffin and his music playing in the background, friends and former neighbours gathered on Monday to say goodbye to Michael Softley who died last week, aged 77.
Photographs of the musician, poet and writer, who was a familiar sight around Enniskillen with his long white beard, shorts, bare feet and bicycle, were on display in the small room at Millcroft Nursing Home. 
Tributes were paid to the pensioner as Millcroft staff who had cared for him over the past five years huddled together to remember the man who had an unconventional approach to life and people.
“We witnessed many a twinkle in his eye,” said Manager Carmel Leonard.
“There are not many Micks in this world and it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to him today,” she said.
Originally from Essex, he grew up in South Woodford where he attended the Infant Junior Primary School before going on to college in Tottenham. 
The singer/songwriter and guitarist was a figurehead during the British folk scene, releasing three albums and writing for artists such as Donovan, Maddy Prior and Mac MacLeod. 
Even in his last few years he immersed himself in music. 
He first visited Fermanagh in 1983 after playing in Belfast’s folk festival where he performed songs and poetry at the Group Theatre. Despite his success, Mr. Softley turned away from the opportunity of stardom, and after a brief stint travelling and performing, he settled down in Fermanagh in 1984, first living in Tempo, then the Redoubt in Enniskillen and later in a bungalow in Ferney Rise.
In 2003, Mr. Softley spoke in depth about his life during an interview with The Impartial Reporter. Explaining why he gave up on a career in the limelight, he said: “I don’t like people making money out of what I do which is why I have avoided a proper career.” 
His friends and former neighbours, however, remember him as someone who was friendly, charming and polite. 
“That’s their opinion really, it’s the way they think,” said Mr. Softley when asked by this newspaper about the views of others. 
“I also have no record whatsoever of causing trouble. I prefer to leave people alone to get on with their business and I’ll get on with mine.”
For him, it was always about his strong belief in principles. 
When Mr. Softley, who lived his life “in a world of science” was asked about his IQ, he laughed: “Not that much different from a tree.”
He described himself as a person who was “very effective” and “tenacious” and someone with “deep consideration.”
The attentiveness he showed to others was returned when people stood in silent reflection as his coffin was placed into a hearse by W. T. Morrison, funeral directors, ahead of his cremation. 
Just before Mr. Softley left Enniskillen for the final time, a poem on behalf of his friend Paul Moore, who lives in Israel, was read out.
“Tonight you return to the stars above, shine on, be ever bright,” it said.